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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Winter in Africa is still Winter....Brrrrrrrr!

In my house we have an ongoing joke about how I can't dress for weather. At one point Joe drew me a handy chart showing me what I should wear depending on the temperature. The lowest temperature on the chart being 20 which show a picture of a in don't get out of bed if it is 20. On the Kruger safari, I learned a valuable lesson. Winter in Africa is still winter and when you are doing game drives in an open safari vehicle, freezing doesn't even begin to describe things. I was the only one who had gloves and a hat too.....hmmm...who's dressing for weather now!

We had a bit of a rocky start leaving for the safari (sat in the hotel lobby from 4:30am-6:30am) but after that everything was great. It took about 4.5 hours to drive up to Kruger National Park, and as soon as we transferred to our safari vehicle at the gate, we immediately began to start seeing animals. We saw 3 of the big 5 in our first 4 hours (rhino...didn't expect to see rhino so it was a nice treat, elephant...the park has 14,000, and leopard.....very lucky they are shy and not often seen). We also saw lots of giraffes and two 3mo old spotted hyena pups which were adoable.

Our first evening we went on a night game drive and saw a gorgeous sunset and were fortunate to see young bull elephants play fighting. It was cool to watch the diurnal animals go to bed and the nocturnal animals start to come out.

The second day we saw the rest of the big 5 including buffalo and a pride of lions (2 females, 2 males, and 4 cubs). They were laying around panting, fat and happy from gorging themselves on a giraffe that they took down the day before. On our last day in Kruger we were able to see them again, but this time they were eating and a little cub was sleeping inside of the rib cage. It was a truly amazing sight to see!

The most amazing thing about the safari is simply seeing the sheer number of animals. I have seen many of these animals in zoos before, but never in these numbers. We saw herds of 40+ zebra, tons of elephants and herds of giraffes running through the veld. We didn't see any cheetahs or wild dogs, but maybe we will on our next safari! We have seen a lot of babies though including lions, giraffes, warthogs, zebras, baboons, vervet monkeys, elephants and hyenas.

The camps at Kruger are fenced in and we slept in tents with twin beds. Right before dinner on our second night I saw an elephant walking and after dinner hyenas we patrolling the fence perimeter. It was quite exciting and hearing hyenas whoop to each other in the early morning is really a special thing.

Last night we stayed at a private game reserve which was basic but very nice. This morning at breakfast we all got to feed a nyala (a neat looking antelope) which had very wet lips and a slobbery tongue, but was very cute. We also watched monkeys steal apples from the table...cheeky monkeys!

We also saw Blyde River Canyon which is the 3rd deepest canyon in the world and was gorgeous. Even though this part of Africa is experiencing winter, the mix of browns and greens is still beautiful. The veld is teeming with life and there are aniamals everywhere you look...just they way I like it. In fact Joe has made it his personal mission to snap a photo/video of every animal that crosses the road in front of our safari far he is doing well!

Tomorrow we leave for Zambia. We have a 2 hour flight and then a 2 hour drive to our hotel/canoe drop off point. Our canoe safari is from Sat 8/9-Wed 8/13. I won't have any communication so make sure everyone watches lots of Olympic coverage for me!

Until then....


1 comment:

Amber said...

That's amazing! Especially the baby sitting in the rib cage...intense! I know you're having an awesome time and I'm playing along by reading the S. Africa section of Around the World in 80 Dinner. I'm so hungry! Stay warm and feel free to sleep while I stay up until all hours watching streaming olympic coverage online. Yawn - sleep can happen again in September ;)